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Caster Semenya can no longer compete during appeal

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Caster Semenya can no longer compete In her best events while she appeals a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling that upheld the IAAF’s new rule that bars her.

On Monday, a Swiss Federal Supreme Court judge reversed prior rulings that had temporarily suspended the IAAF rule for Semenya only while she appealed the CAS ruling.

Monday’s decision has no impact on Semenya’s appeal itself, but the two-time Olympic 800m champion can no longer compete in events between the 400m and mile as she was allowed to do in June and July.

The Swiss court reasoned that it has limited power of review, “is by no means a Supreme Court for Sports” and that, on that basis, “Semenya’s appeal does not appear with high probability to be well founded.”

Though world championships in Doha are not for another two months, Semenya is already saying she will not defend her title from 2017.

“This will not deter me from continuing my fight for the human rights of all of the female athletes concerned,” she said in a statement.

A release from Semenya’s team stated that the Swiss Supreme Court “emphasized the strict requirements and high thresholds for the interim suspension of CAS awards and found that these were not fulfilled.”

The IAAF rule that Semenya is trying to strike would bar her from races between 400m and the mile unless she takes testosterone-suppressing measures, under which she would be allowed to return to those distances after six months. Semenya refuses to take those measures.

Semenya first appealed to CAS, which on May 1 ruled in favor of the IAAF. Semenya then appealed the CAS decision to the Swiss Supreme Court, which at first allowed her, but not others with her condition of difference of sexual development (DSD), to compete pending the appeal’s outcome.

Semenya has won 31 straight 800m races dating to 2015. All three Rio Olympic 800m medalists have said they are affected by the new rule. Semenya raced once while the Swiss Supreme Court allowed her to, winning the Pre Classic on May 30.

“First chapter of my life done, looking forward to my second chapter,” Semenya tweeted earlier Tuesday.

The IAAF said it will continue to maintain that, ‘There are some contexts, sport being one of them, where biology has to trump gender identity, which is why the IAAF believes (and the CAS agreed) that the DSD Regulations are a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of protecting fair and meaningful competition in elite female athletics.”

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IAAF argued in court that Caster Semenya is ‘biologically male’

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The governing body of track argued that Caster Semenya is “biologically male” and that is the reason she should reduce her natural testosterone to be allowed to compete in female competitions, according to documents released publicly by sport’s highest court for the first time on Tuesday.

The IAAF’s stance on Semenya and other female athletes affected by its new testosterone regulations was revealed in a 163-page decision from the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, where the South African runner took on the IAAF over its highly contentious hormone rules in a closed-doors five-day hearing in February. CAS released only excerpts of the final decision when it was announced last month.

Tuesday’s fuller court records, which were still partially redacted, show the IAAF referred to the two-time Olympic 800m champion as one of a number of “biologically male athletes with female gender identities.”

In witness statements to the court, Semenya responded to the assertion by saying that being described as biologically male “hurts more than I can put in words.”

Semenya told the court she was unable to express the depth of hurt and insult she felt at the IAAF “telling me that I am not a woman.”

The IAAF won the case at CAS by a 2-1 majority of the panel of judges, allowing it to implement testosterone limits for Semenya and other female athletes who it says were born with typical male chromosome patterns.

At least two other athletes, Olympic 800m silver and bronze medalists Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya, have said they are also affected by the new rules. They also have railed against the regulations and criticized the IAAF.

Semenya, who has been legally identified as female her whole life, appealed the CAS verdict to Switzerland’s supreme court on human rights grounds. She won an interim ruling to temporarily suspend the hormone regulations.

The dispute between the 28-year-old Semenya, who is also a three-time world champion, and the IAAF is viewed as the most complex and controversial that sport has faced in years.

The IAAF says Semenya is one of a number of female athletes born with a “differences of sex disorder” and the typical male XY chromosome pattern, giving them male levels of the hormone testosterone after puberty and therefore an unfair athletic advantage over other female athletes.

To be allowed to compete under the rules, Semenya and other affected athletes must medically reduce their testosterone to below a specific threshold set by the IAAF. The rules only apply to races from 400m to one mile.

Semenya has refused to take medication to alter what she calls her natural form.

Tuesday’s documents shone a light on some of the runner’s experiences in a bitter 10-year battle with track and field authorities, experiences which she hasn’t spoken about publicly.

Testifying to the court, Semenya said she had been subjected to gender verification tests by South African track authorities in the buildup to the 2009 World Championships without being told or understanding the nature of the tests. She was 18 at the time and preparing for her first major competition.

Then, after her breakthrough victory at those world championships in Berlin, Germany, Semenya said she was taken to a German hospital where the IAAF conducted another gender test on her. Semenya testified that the IAAF did not ask the then-teenager if she wanted to undergo the test.

“It was an order by the IAAF which I had no choice but to comply with,” Semenya testified, according to the CAS documents.

She described her first major championships and speculation over her gender as “the most profound and humiliating experience of my life.” She said her treatment was “atrocious and humiliating.”

Semenya also described a five-year period from 2010-15 where she reluctantly agreed take testosterone suppressants under a previous version of the IAAF’s rules because her career depended on it.

But Semenya said the medication caused her to experience significant weight gain and constantly feel sick, led to regular fevers, and caused internal abdominal pain.

She said the IAAF, which didn’t introduce its first set of testosterone regulations until 2011, used her as a “lab rat” as it experimented with hormone-reducing medication.

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Caster Semenya to IAAF: Focus on dopers, not us

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MONTREUIL, France (AP) — After another winning run, a defiant Caster Semenya on Tuesday urged track’s governing body to drop its pursuit of female runners with high testosterone levels and instead focus on catching dope cheats.

Speaking after winning a 2000m on the outskirts of Paris, the South African again made clear that she will refuse to medicate to bring down her testosterone levels, to comply with hugely controversial rules pushed by the IAAF.

“I’m not an idiot. Why will I take drugs? I’m a pure athlete. I don’t cheat. They should focus on doping, not us. I’m never going to take drugs,” the two-time Olympic 800m champion said.

Another athlete affected by the rules, Francine Niyonsaba, also responded with a defiant “No!” when asked after the race if she would medicate.

“I’m sad, because it’s a discriminatory rule, you know, a rule that targeted me and other world-class athletes in certain disciplines,” said Niyonsaba, who took silver behind Semenya at the Rio Games.

Athletes affected by the rules have levels of testosterone in the male range, the IAAF says, and they must reduce them to be allowed to run in women’s events. The IAAF argues that testosterone’s muscle-building capacity and ability to help athletes carry more oxygen in their blood gives Semenya and others like her an unfair athletic advantage over other women.

The rules, which came into effect May 8, apply to races from 400m to one mile. Semenya tried but failed to have the regulations struck down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Her legal team subsequently appealed to the Swiss supreme court, which then temporarily lifted the contentious rules in her case.

Semenya wouldn’t comment Tuesday on that appeal, saying she’s not a lawyer. But she made clear that she intends to be the master of her own fate, saying: “I’m not going to change because of any man.”

“If they have a problem with me, I don’t have a problem with them. That’s their business, to worry, not mine,” she said.

On a soggy, rain-drenched and chilly evening, Semenya ran a forgettable time of 5 minutes, 38.19 seconds over 2000m, a rarely-run distance that isn’t an Olympic event.

Ultimately, if her appeal fails and Semenya can no longer compete over 800m, her signature event, she suggested that it wouldn’t be the end of the world for her. She said she could drop down to sprints or scale up to longer distances if needed.

“I can run any event I want,” she said. “I’m a talented athlete. I’m not worried about anything else.”

The IAAF rules apply to a specific group of women with medical conditions known as differences of sex development (DSD) and specifically those born with the typical male XY chromosome pattern and testosterone levels higher than the typical female range.

To compete in the Olympics, world championships or other international track and field events, each athlete must reduce her testosterone level and keep it within the acceptable range for six months prior to competing. The IAAF gives three medical options: a daily contraceptive pill, a monthly testosterone-blocking injection or surgery. The treatments could inhibit athletic performance but by how much is uncertain, while also posing risks of other negative side effects.

The treatment has been labelled as unethical by an array of experts, including the World Medical Association, which represents doctors across the world.

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